The Illinois Attorney General has weighed in on a ruling that was vacated in Adams County in a sex assault case last month.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul says he is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to order Judge Robert Adrian to impose a lawful sentence to 18 year old Drew Clinton in accordance with state law. Adrian found Clinton guilty of felony criminal sexual assault in October 2021 to a 16 year old female minor victim. On January 3rd, Adrian vacated the conviction and said that Clinton’s 148-day imprisonment in the Adams County Jail “was punishment enough.” Adrian’s admonishments from the bench and his vacated conviction drew international outrage. Adrian was later removed from the criminal docket by Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit J. Frank McCartney on January 13th. Calls for Adrian to resign from the bench have been ongoing.
Clinton was originally charged with 3 counts of criminal sexual assault for assaulting the victim at a graduation party in Quincy. The 16-year-old victim was unable to give consent when she was assaulted by Clinton because she had passed out after consuming alcohol, and according to the victim’s testimony at trial awoke to find Clinton on top of her with a pillowcase shoved over her face.
Adrian found Clinton guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault, a felony, after a bench trial that included testimony from the victim and witnesses at the party. However, when sentencing Clinton, Adrian plainly stated his intention to not sentence Clinton to prison due to his age and lack of a criminal history, as mandated by Illinois’ mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. Instead, Adrian vacated the conviction and released Clinton from custody. Raoul’s mandamus complaint urges the Supreme Court to order Adrian to reinstate the verdict and issue a sentence consistent with the mandatory sentencing range set in statute.
Raoul said in a press release today that the mandatory sentencing range for the offense is 4-15 years in prison according to state law: ““The mandatory sentencing range set by the Illinois General Assembly for felony criminal sexual assault is four to 15 years in prison. In addition to the insensitivity to the victim in this case, the judge’s decision to vacate the conviction and call the 148 days Clinton served in county jail ‘plenty of punishment,’ demonstrates an abuse of power.”
Raoul’s actions comes after collaboration with the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office and Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha’s Office. Farha put out an appeal to David Robinson, the chief deputy director at the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Springfield on January 19th. Robinson is also the deputy director of the Fourth Judicial Appellate District.
Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha says that he hopes that this will show victims that the justice system does work: “Victims of sexual assault often make the decision to not come forward because they believe that the criminal justice system will not believe them nor protect them. The victim in this case took the brave steps of reporting the crime, cooperating with the investigation, and testifying at trial. Because of her courage, the defendant was convicted of his crime. There is nothing more frustrating and disheartening to our community, this victim, and to all victims of sexual assault when any defendant avoids the legal consequences of his conduct. We appreciate the hard work of the Attorney General and the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in ensuring that this brave young woman have the opportunity to see her attacker held responsible.”
Raoul points out in the mandamus that by refusing to enforce a valid criminal statute, the judge acted as a quasi-legislator and usurped the authority of the legislative branch while undermining confidence in the judicial process. Raoul further argues that Adrian’s comments at the sentencing hearing demonstrate his own recognition that he lacked the authority to depart from the mandatory minimum sentencing range.
The victim at the center of the case, 16 year old Cameron Vaughan of Quincy has since come forward to discuss her struggles throughout the case. Vaughan appeared on Wednesday on Dr. Phil in an exclusive interview discussing details of the case and the fallout of coming forward.